Digital Cultural Relations: Innovation and Reflections

The term digital diplomacy is somewhat lacking. Though scholars and diplomats often employ this term in relation to digital innovation, the term suggests that digital diplomacy is a type of diplomatic practice. Just as diplomats practice bi-lateral diplomacy and cultural diplomacy, so they may practice digital diplomacy. Yet the term is much broader and relates to the overall impact that digital technologies have had on the conduct of diplomacy. Indeed, most diplomats, diplomatic institutions and international organizations now use digital technologies to obtain a wide array of goals spanning from crisis management to public diplomacy, consular affairs, international negotiations, image management and internal management of information.

Just as digital technologies have impacted other realms of diplomacy, they have also impacted the practice of cultural diplomacy. From the creation of virtual museums to using Zoom to conduct training for language teachers, digital technologies are redefining the term cultural diplomacy and reshaping its practice.

Recently, the British Council sought to examine how digital technologies can help shape its global activities. I was fortunate to join with a team of experts, headed by Stuart MacDonald, in order to investigate current digital practices as well as outline how cultural diplomacy can best leverage different digital technologies. This work resulted in a report that can be found below. It is based on interviews with practitioners, thought leaders and individuals tasked with conducting cultural activities across the globe. The report examines how lessons learned by diplomats can be applied to cultural institutions or the conduct of cultural diplomacy while also suggesting how cultural institutions can best adapt to digital disruption.

This is an especially timely report as events such as Covid19, as well as the vision of the Metaverse, are leading to the accelerated digitalization of cultural diplomacy.

Emjoy the read!

Ilan Manor

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